Associated Press October 10, 2011
BASRA, Iraq (AP) – Iraqi officials say six members of a demining team died when a controlled detonation of old land mines went wrong.
As the troops went to investigate, the explosion happened, killing three Iraqi soldiers and three explosives experts.
* Iraq has an estimated 20 million landmines
* Demining one hurdle for oil companies
Basra, Iraq, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Six workers clearing mines in Iraq’s Rumaila South oilfield were killed over the weekend when a pile of mines and old ordnance exploded prematurely, police sources said.
Millions of old mines and abandoned weapons from the 1980 Iraq-Iran war and the first Gulf War still litter the southern part of Iraq where foreign oil companies are helping develop the country’s vast oil reserves.
The explosions on Saturday killed four people working for a local demining company and two Iraqi army officers, police sources said.
“The explosion happened when a joint team… tried to blow up a pile of war materials and mines inside Rumaila South oilfield,” a senior Oil Police official said.
Rumaila, a supergiant oilfield with a production of around 1.2 million barrels per day, is being developed by BP and China’s CNPC. BP did not immediately respond to a request for details on the incident.
Landmines are one threat to Iraq’s goal of rebuilding its war-ravaged economy and infrastructure by becoming a top global oil producer. The government signed deals with oil majors to develop its reserves, which are among the world’s largest.
Mines are among the hurdles faced by oil firms working on fields like Rumaila, Majnoon and West Qurna in southern Iraq.
Two Iraqi army engineers were killed by a landmine in a separate incident on Saturday when they tried to defuse it in a town near Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
Decades of war have left Iraq with one of the worst mine problems in the world, according to UNICEF, with around 20 million anti-personnel mines and more than 50 million cluster bombs believed to remain in border areas and southern oilfields
New terms mean company will be paid even when production is disrupted, critics claim
The Guardian July 30, 2001
BP has been accused of taking a “stranglehold” on the Iraqi economy after the Baghdad government agreed to pay the British firm even when oil is not being produced by the Rumaila field, confidential documents reveal.
The original deal for operating Iraq‘s largest field – half as big as the entire North Sea – has been rewritten so that BP will be immediately compensated for civil disruption or government decisions to cut production.
This potentially could influence the policy decisions made by Iraq in relation to the Opec oil cartel, and is a major step away from the original terms of an auction deal signed in the summer of 2009, critics claim.
“Iraq’s oil auctions were portrayed as a model of transparency and a negotiating victory for the Iraqi government,” said Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq. “Now we see the reality was the opposite: a backroom deal that gave BP a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy, and even influence over the decisions of Opec.”
The concerns are shared by the Platform campaign group, which has obtained copies of the original and amended contracts and on Sunday will publish them on its website.
October saw the highest levels of activity on the Rumaila oilfield in southern Iraq since the Technical Service Agreement was signed in 2009 and BP was appointed Lead Contractor. Activity has focused on improving oil production from existing wells, bringing new wells on stream and ensuring flowlines and other field infrastructure is tied-in to support increased production.
In October, a total of 20 drilling rigs were working on the field, including those operated under new contracts by Daqing, Weatherford and a consortium of Schlumberger and IDC. Seven of these were drilling into the main pay of the reservoir and 13 were workover rigs, installing electrical submersible pumps (ESPs).
Some 1400 Iraqis and 300 expatriate staff were working on this drilling programme alone, in addition to a total of 4000 staff in the Rumaila Operating Organisation. Training courses have been run by Baker Hughes, Al Khorayef and Jinan in Iraq on ESP installation, and some 20 Iraqis are currently undertaking an industry-accredited advanced well control course in Turkey as part of the Weatherford contract.
‘We are setting an extraordinary pace,’ said Rumaila General Manager Salah Mohammed. ‘Not only are we increasing production but we are also building a great new team, introducing better reporting of safety and environmental incidents, and taking actions to begin to improve safety in particular. Around 4000 Iraqis have been working for the Rumaila Operating Organisation since July and we are transferring financial, contracting and other processes from SOC to ROO.